Nevada High Court Orders Hearing In Murder-Carjack Case

A mentally retarded man imprisoned for life for killing a Las Vegas prostitute, hijacking cars to escape police and ramming a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper has won a round in his bid to withdraw multiple guilty pleas.

The state Supreme Court ordered an evidentiary hearing sought by Vornelius Phillips, 32, who had argued that Clark County District Judge Lee Gates erred in not holding the hearing to resolve Phillips' claims that he had ineffective legal counsel.

Justices said Phillips' lawyer advised him to plead guilty to 10 counts to avoid the death penalty, but there's a question whether that advice was "reasonable" - and an evidentiary hearing can settle the issue.

If the advice wasn't reasonable, the high court says Gates "shall provide Phillips an opportunity to withdraw his plea."